20 Jan 2007
Opposition party PAS has vowed to press for electoral reforms through various means including taking their demands to the street.Its president Abdul Hadi Awang delivered the pledge in front of 2,000 supporters who attended a ceramah (political talk) at party headquarters in Gombak on Saturday night.
“If there is no clean election, we will clean it up through the streets,” he said to thunderous applause.
PAS is boycotting the upcoming Batu Talam by-election in Pahang together with Barisan Alternatif ally Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) to make a case for electoral reform. They have claimed that the Election Commission (EC) favours the ruling coalition Barisan Nasional (BN).
Among the complaints consistently raised over the year sare voter identification on the ballot paper, presence of ‘phantom voters’, lack of access to media coverage and lopsided postal voting.
Prime Minister and BN chief Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has described the opposition’s boycott of the by-election as an act of cowardice.
Responding, Hadi said: “We are not cowards, we have never done anything wrong, those who afraid are the Umno leaders. None of us are involved in criminal cases or have anything to do with the case of Altantuya (Shaariibuu, a Mongolian national murdered in Malaysia).”
‘Fight for rights’
PKR adviser Anwar Ibrahim, who was present, reiterated the need for electoral reform, saying the party was sending a ‘strong message’ to the prime minister and the EC.
“Abdullah’s government has promised reforms but corruption and the crime rate have both gone up, and (offenders) are given protection,” he said.
“The people must fight for their rights. We must be ready to stand up and fight, if we don’t fight, it will be like being cheated of our votes.”
Anwar argued there is a pressing need for clean and transparent elections, giving examples of inadequate investigations into the murder of Altantuya and two multi-billion ringgit deals in the purchase of submarines and Sukhoi fighter jets.
Human rights group Suaram executive director Yap Swee Seng urged the Batu Talam voters not to turn out to cast their votes on Jan 28, as a way of demonstrating their protest to the EC and the government.
“If the turnout is less than 50 percent this Sunday, it will be a big victory for the people,” he said.
Yap pointed out that the EC had admitted that the names of 180,000 deceased voters were in the electoral roll during the 2004 general election, and that it should have prompted a declaration that the polls were illegitimate.
“I am surprise as to why Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman remains the EC chief with this startling revelation. As the last general election should not be considered an legitimate election, the current BN government is illegitimate,” Yap said to cheers.
Ex-Umno Pasir Mas MP Ibrahim Ali described the opposition’s boycott as a “wise move”, while Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih) spokesperson Syed Shahir Syed Mohamud reiterated several demands in calling for electoral reform.
The three-hour ceramah was organised by Bersih.
(Malaysiakini) 2000 people attended BERSIH's Ceramah
20 Jan 2007